It’s a struggle to watch The Bold and the Beautiful right now. Between the marriage of grandfather/patriarch Eric to Barbie bombshell Donna; to heretofore classy, fifty-something Jackie paired with twenty-something stud-muffin Owen, the show is becoming a one-note joke.
Once upon a time, Eric actually romanced Jackie. Why couldn’t the show continue to pursue a relationship between them? They’re both attractive, vivacious and most importantly, they don’t look ridiculous together. When sixty-something Eric married thirty-something Donna, it created an air of desperation about him, like he’s trying to hold onto his lost youth. It doesn’t help matters that the show constantly dresses Donna in skimpy lingerie, seducing Eric with everything from honey to her substantial assets.
B&B isn’t making Eric look foolish alone. The show is going for equal opportunity sexism by turning Jackie into the ultimate cougar - literally. The writers have stooped so low as to have Jackie liken herself to a cat to Owen, and to meow at him when she wants her “needs” met. This kind of demeaning behavior is insulting to women of any age. It makes it worse that the object of Jackie’s lust is younger than her own son.
Sometimes May/December relationships can work on soaps and not appear creepy. Think Olivia and Johnny on General Hospital. I’m not sure what the “X” factor is that makes this relationship easier to stomach than the ones on B&B, but maybe it’s because the age gap doesn’t appear quite as extreme, and one person doesn’t hold a position of power over the other. Both Eric and Jackie are their respective paramours bosses on B&B.
B&B is doing a disservice to talented actors John McCook (Eric) and Lesley-Anne Down (Jackie) by humiliating their characters through unflattering and infantile behavior. It’s only a matter of time until someone age appropriate comes along for Donna and Owen, and in Donna’s case, it appears she has already met a future match in the newly arrived Bill Spencer (Don Diamont). Not if – but when – Donna and Owen leave Eric and Jackie, they will emerge unscathed. The same can’t be said of Eric and Jackie, as well as their portrayers.
BLISSFUL: KATHERINE AND MURPHY ON Y&R
Imagine the reaction from fans if the writers on The Young and the Restless had paired the character of Katherine Chancellor - an 80-year-old woman - with a man some thirty years her junior?
Thankfully, Y&R has more respect for the character, because they gave Katherine an age-appropriate love interest, and the result is pure magic. Murphy, Katherine’s new husband, is younger than she is, but not more than a few years. What’s more, they look and act like they have been together forever. Jeanne Cooper (who won her first Emmy as Katherine last year) and Michael Fairman (Murphy) lend an elegant, old Hollywood style feel to their characters’ romance, unlike any other in daytime. In an era where young, hot bodies bed-hopping on soaps is the norm, there’s something inspirational about these two. They defy the odds by illustrating what true romance and love is all about.
Kudos to Y&R for showcasing a mature love story. Not many 80-year olds get front burner storylines, let alone a love interest and a wedding. It’s refreshing to watch the show break the long held soap tradition of trotting out their octogenarian actor only on holidays. It’s also a testament to Cooper, since she has carried a front-burner storyline for the past year, including a time when she portrayed two roles. How’s that for shattering a stereotype?
Y&R, Cooper and Fairman are setting a wonderful example of how exhilarating it can be to break out of the conventional mold and do something unexpected. An older actor doesn’t need a relationship with a younger actor for the romance to work. Hopefully, Y&R’s bold choice will allow other shows to feature romances between actors who are too good to be overlooked because of their age. It’s a great reminder that romance shouldn’t end when the perky body parts become a bit less perky.
Lesleyann Coker is a reporter and monthly opinion columnist for Soapdom.com. She is also the co-author of Boob Tube, a forthcoming novel that goes behind the scenes of the soap opera industry. The book is available in ebook form at http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/3 . She was previously a reporter for Soap Opera Weekly Magazine.
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